Polish leader slammed for saying EU has little relevance

Poland’s president comes under heavy criticism from political opponents after he calls the European Union an “imaginary community” of little relevance to Poles.

Andrzej Duda is aligned with the ruling Law and Justice party, which has been in conflict with the EU over an overhaul of the Polish judicial system which Brussels sees as violating the rule of law.

“When our affairs are resolved, we will deal with European affairs,” Duda said in a speech on Tuesday. “For now let them leave us alone and let us fix Poland, because this is the most important thing.”

Duda and government officials insist that the changes, which give the ruling party vast new powers over the courts, are democratic, making judges more accountable. The EU and a number of human rights groups say the changes erode the independence of the judicial branch.

Duda’s speech came as the EU is struggling with challenges on several fronts, including a similar conflict with Hungary, Britain’s departure next year and a new euroskeptic government in Italy. EU lawmakers on Wednesday voted to launch action against the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban for allegedly undermining the bloc’s democratic values and rule of law.

— AP

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